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UFC 239: Jon Jones retains light heavyweight title with split decision victory over Thiago Santos

Jon ‘Bones’ Jones was pushed to the limit by Santos, but the pound-for-pound king did enough to emerge victorious in Las Vegas.

Jon Jones retained his light heavyweight world title after a narrow split decision victory over Thiago Santos at UFC 239.

One judge scored the fight 48-47 to the Brazilian but the other two had Jones ahead 48-47.

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After the fight, pound-for-pound superstar Jones said: “Oh my goodness, boy was he tough. I played him smart and I brought home this gold for my family and my team.”

In the co-main event, double-Champion Amanda Nunes reaffirmed her status as the greatest fighter in women’s MMA history with a first round knockout of Holly Holm.

Nunes defended her bantamweight title in style, winning courtesy of a brutal head kick. The bout was stopped 4 minutes and 10 seconds into the first round.

After a tempestuous build-up, Jorge Masvidal scored the fastest knockout in UFC history against Ben Askren in a welterweight grudge match.

34-year-old Masvidal, who registered a brutal KO against Darren Till in March, stopped Askren with a flying right knee after five seconds of the first round.

Speaking after the fight, Masvidal said: “That dude was talking wild, man. I have to show you there’s consequences sometimes.”

UFC 239: Fight reports

Jones defended his light heavyweight strap in one of the most evenly matched bouts of his illustrious career at UFC 239.

Santos was the busier fighter in the opening round, eager to demonstrate the devastating power that has seen him rise to the summit of the division, and the Brazilian caught the champion with a shot that dislodged his mouthpiece during the opening exchanges. 

The early stages instilled confidence in the challenger and Santos continued to be the aggressor in the second round.

However, Jones landed a kick that sent Santos stumbling towards the mat, an indication that the champion was moving through the gears.

Jones increased his output in the third round, but his aggression saw him hit the canvas after a misjudged high knee failed to land, but Santos wasn’t able to capitalise.

Santos’ pressure began to relent in the fourth round as he was struggling with an injury to his left knee and Jones began to dictate the tempo, landing enough to keep his spirited challenger at bay.

Santos was on the front foot in the final round, but his knee was giving him more issues as the round progressed and he failed to land a final telling blow of note on the Champion.

Jones did enough to convince two of the three judges that he won the contest, but it was far from resounding.  

Brazilian Nunes needed only one round to finish former champion Holm and defend her bantamweight title in the co-main event in Paradise, Nevada.

After a series of cagey opening exchanges, ‘The Lioness’ countered a telegraphed combination from Holm in the closing stages of the opening round with a thunderous head kick that landed flush.

Holm crashed to the canvas after the devastating kick and referee Marc Goddard called off the contest with Nunes connecting with follow-up strikes.

Nunes becomes the first fighter to knockout Holm in her MMA career and she has now defended her bantamweight title four times, two short of Ronda Rousey’s all-time record.

For Number 2 ranked Holm, the defeat is the fifth in seven fights and the fourth successive loss in UFC title fights.

After the victory, Nunes declared her intentions to defend her featherweight title in December.

UFC 239: Post-fight interviews

Jones: “We all knew Thiago’s best chance was to knock me out. I played it smart and brought home this gold for my family and team.

“He was technically a lot more sound than I thought. Thiago Santos is a black belt in Muay Thai. I'm proud of myself, because I stood with a guy who's been kickboxing way longer than me.”

Nunes: “People say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but this belt is going home with me.

“During my warm-up, I knew I was going to get her. I told my coaches I wanted to knock her out the same way she knocks people out... I did it tonight.

“She was the only former champion I hadn't beaten yet. Now, I've beaten her and I'm very happy.”

Masvidal: “I really wanted to beat him up for 14 minutes and 30 seconds before ending him, but it didn't happen.

“I have nothing nice to say about him. He was talking wild and I had to show him there are consequences. You're welcome for ending that dude.

“I'm coming for that belt. You know who deserves that belt. I deserve that next title shot. After this performance, I don't want to say anything.

“I'll let the fans do the talking. They pay guys to fight. If you want to see a fighter, and not someone on social media talking about fighting, that's me.”

UFC 239: Social media reaction

 

 

 

 

 

 

UFC 239: Undercard results

Jan Blachowicz registered an impressive knockout over Luke Rockhold on the American’s light heavyweight debut.

Blachowicz dropped Rockhold in the first round before ending the contest with a savage left hook 1 minute and 39 seconds into the second round.

The loss was Rockhold’s second straight knockout defeat after a third-round finish at the hands of Yoel Romero.

It was an impressive return to the Octagon for Blachowicz who suffered a TKO stoppage against title challenger Thiago Santos last time out.

Speaking after the contest, he said: “I showed the legendary Polish power. I’m proud of that. I see this left hook all the time in my dreams in my mentality training. I see this and I knew it would come.”

Michael Chiesa defeated veteran Diego Sanchez by unanimous decision in the opening bout on the main card.

The 37-year-old Sanchez was dominated from the opening bell and all three judges scored the contest 30-26.

Chiesa moved to 2-0 at welterweight and he issued a stark warning to the 170 pound division after the routine victory.

“This is my division now”, he said. “Top 10 [opponent] next and I won't accept anything else.”

Prelims

Arnold Allen def Gilbert Melendez (Pts)

Marlon Vera def Nohelin Hernandez (Submission)

Claudia Gadelha def Randa Markos (Pts)

Song Yadong def Alejandro Perez (KO)

Edmen Shahbazyan def Jack Marshman (Submission)

Chance Rencountre def Ismail Naurdiev (Pts)

Julia Avila def Piannie Kianzad (Pts)

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